The lack of respect for the protocols and professional courtesies established for public meetings has raised serious concerns about two council members' fitness to serve.
During the last several meetings, council members Jim Mosby and Victor Vega have had an ongoing public feud with the city manager. It began when Vega demanded and got three votes to remove the city manager, city attorney and assistant city manager from the dais.
This was clearly a bullying move to establish who is boss in the city, and it began a series of actions designed to impugn, directly or indirectly, the competence, integrity and efforts of the city staff and specifically the city manager.
Then there was a Vega request for an out-of-cycle performance evaluation for the city manager. Personnel evaluations always occur annually in closed session, and on Aug. 1 Mayor Bob Lingl reported the city manager had been doing a “more than satisfactory” job. It was the second evaluation this year.
On Sept. 5, the city manager apologized for any implication that he had disrespected Vega during a previous meeting. Mosby asked the city attorney whether “the city manager was acting insubordinate toward Vega?” The city attorney replied that this was not a matter to be discussed in an open meeting, something that a more competent council member would have known.
Then, during the council requests portion of the same meeting, Mosby made a motion for an emergency meeting to discuss possible disciplinary action and/or termination of the city manager. That motion failed. Vega immediately tried the same motion again and it failed.
Once again, competent council members would have understood that the Ralph M. Brown Act allows emergency meetings only when “a crippling activity, work stoppage or other activity which severely impairs public health, safety or both” will occur.
As for Mosby, he has constantly questioned minute details of the city manager’s budget proposal, the accuracy of the information contained in it, and demanded answers to so many questions we have lost count. Neither he nor any other council member has ever managed a staff or budget of the size and complexity of a city government, which makes his credibility on the issue questionable.
Finally, council member Jenelle Osborne had enough of their rude behavior and took her errant colleagues to task. She made a key point saying that potential investors in our community and the public in general pay close attention to how council members conduct themselves during public meetings.
She said “there is a level of professionalism that we are expected to bring when elected and the current behavior of the council has been abhorrent …”
She went on to say she supported asking questions but that she “has been embarrassed numerous times when representing the community out of the area” by the actions of a few.
She is concerned with council members who “impugn the integrity of staff members or attack personalities when we don’t agree with them.” She added in these cases, “we are behaving badly.”
These spontaneous comments reflect the feeling of many council observers in the community. Both Mosby and Vega are very divisive and have conducted themselves in a manner contrary to the policies and professional-conduct standards articulated in the City Council Handbook.
These standards have always been respected by elected officials until now.
Council members Mosby and Vega, please reassess your public demeanor. You both are behaving badly and owe the community, the staff and your peers a public apology.